Pro competitors were making money in the mud on the first weekend of June, and some of Canada’s top saddle bronc riders were in the spotlight. When the skies opened up at both Lea Park and Rocky, it took many extra volunteer hours to get the arenas ready for action. But the work was worth it, and the bucking stock responded in fine form.

Canadian champion Clay Elliott posted the high mark of the weekend, when he racked up an impressive 90 points on Franklin Rodeo’s Evening Mist, to win the Lea Park Rodeo and $2015.

The only time the two had met before was in Wildwood a year ago.

“The horse didn’t have his day that day, but I knew he had it in him, and he dang sure had his day today,” declared the Nanton cowboy. “I saw Dustin Flundra get on him there this year, and I was craving that horse.”

Elliott then headed down to Sisters, OR, where he picked up fourth place, and another $1592. His travelling partner for the journey south, and then back up to Rocky Mountain House, was World Champion Zeke Thurston. It was Thurston’s turn to hit the pay window at Rocky, when he got on the Outlaw Bucker’s mare Double Vision, for 86 points and first place money of $1418.

“I had a pretty slow weekend up to today,” admitted Thurston. “This made my weekend here. It was worth the overnight trip.”

The 22-year-old has been enjoying some time and cattle work at home on his Big Valley ranch, before the real rodeo rush begins.

“I eat, sleep and breathe anything to do with being cowboy, so it’s really nice to be around home and your family, and get some horses rode. It’s a change of pace, and I really enjoy it.”

Thurston was the defending champ at Rocky, even though his win came in 2015. The organizing committee had to cancel last year’s rodeo, with sponsorship challenges in an oil economy squeeze. But, as Rocky Rodeo President Gary Duft explained, the community missed the rodeo and worked hard to bring it back.

“With progress through the summer last year working on new sponsorship, we were able to host the event. We got a few more sponsors out of town, and things are starting to head in the right direction economy-wise, so everybody was able to chip in and make it happen,” said Duft.

The Canadian bronc rider who collected the most cheques on the weekend was Sam Kelts, who calls Stavely home now. Kelts claimed top spot in Brooks, with an 83.5 on Kesler’s Just For Kicks ($1090), finished 4th at Rocky ($684) and 6th at Brooks ($504). Add to that another 4th ($831) from Union, OR, and it looks like the 33-year-old has found his groove, after what he describes as a ‘really slow’ winter and early spring.

“Drawing better has helped,” Kelts confirmed. “I got on a couple good ones, and got confidence back, and it’s been feeling better. At this point, I know what I’m supposed to be doing, but I just wasn’t doing it. I finally got it sorted out. I changed saddles a couple times this winter. I don’t know if it was the saddle’s fault, but it was just changing something.”

The saddle he settled on that seems to be the ‘turnaround’ fit belongs to fellow bronc rider Luke Butterfield. He won’t be needing it for a while since he’s on the injury list, recovering from a broken leg.

Manitoba-raised bareback rider Orin Larsen was one of the biggest money winners of the weekend, after he scooped up first at both Lea Park, with 85.5 on Calgary’s Wanaka Rocket; and Rocky, with 85 on Duffy’s Blue Jeans, for a $3305 cash injection in his rodeo account. Canadian season leader Ky Marshall kept in front by adding $1468 from Rocky and Brooks placings.

Steer wrestler Scott Guenthner of Provost split first at Lea Park ($1919) and placed at Brooks ($418), but he also picked up a go-round win at Sisters, OR for a 3.7 second run, worth $1811 more in his PRCA win column. Stony Plain’s Derek Frank hit them for money at all three Canadian rodeos, for a $3044 haul. In the tie-down roping, Pincher Creek’s Randy Smith got his first money of the year, finishing second at Rocky and third at Lea Park, for $3597. Veteran Mark Nugent earned $2803 from placing fourth at both Rocky and Lea Park, with matching times of 9.7 seconds.

Lynette Brodoway of Brooks won her hometown show in barrel racing, but also placed at Rocky, for a $3057 weekend, while Longview’s Kendra Edey is $3785 richer after her runs at Lea Park and Brooks. Team ropers spread the wealth around on the weekend, with Garrett Rogers and Jacob Minor rounding up the most, $2580 apiece, after winning Brooks and taking second at Rocky. Rhen Richard and Rich Skelton also got a pair of cheques, for $1765 each.

Steven Woolsey, from Payson, UT, was able to ease his way out of the chute on the young Vold bull Fire Nails, and the solid spinner helped him to 87 points and $1322 for first. He and his travelling crew intend on getting to enough Canadian rodeos to try and make the CFR. That includes Riker Carter of Idaho who managed to make the whistle on two bulls on the weekend. He took first at Lea Park with an 85, and second at Rocky with an 81, for $3158.

Cody Floyd of Calgary collected more than that for his winning 83 point bull ride on Kesler’s Blind Spot, in Brooks. He was the only cowboy to make the whistle there, for $3055 plus $750 in day money. And here’s one for the record books. Jacob Gardner of Dawson Creek cashed in his chips after racking up a whole 22 points on his bull ride in Rocky.  It netted him $227.95, and you can throw in another $210 in day money. Yep, for a 22.

Other winners stateside on the weekend were bronc rider Jake Watson, who was 2nd in Union, OR for $1738; team ropers Riley Wilson and Clay Ullery, with a second round placing in Sisters, OR for $987 each, and Jordan Hansen, who collected $3646 for second in the bull riding at Sisters.

Add another Canadian to the top 15 in the World Standings, as Orin Larsen cracks the bareback lineup in 15th spot, with $32,194. Jake Watson is less than $2000 out of the 15th spot in saddle bronc riding. Scott Guenthner, Zeke Thurston, Clay Elliott, Levi Simpson and Jeremy Buhler all remain inside the top 15 as well.

The only stops on the Canadian calendar this weekend are the Okotoks for the Big E Round Up Team Roping and the Daines Ranch Pro Rodeo, with four performances over the weekend. The Daines family is calling it a ‘Sutter Saturday’ with a special tribute to the famous hockey family during Saturday’s action. Also the ‘Twist ‘Em Twice’ steer wrestling jackpot is being introduced, with all the bulldoggers entered running one steer on Wednesday, and the jackpot payout determined on best times when combined with their actual rodeo run.

Thank you to our sponsor, Boulet Boots Inc, presenter of the Boulet Boots Pro Rodeo Report on Everything Cowboy.

About Boulet Boots Inc: What began as the St-Tite Shoe Co. Ltd in 1933, manufacturing dress shoes turned into over 200 pairs of shoes and boots per day for the Canadian Army during World War II. In 1964, Robert, Roger and Reynald Boulet, sons of founder G.A. Boulet, began manufacturing western boots, therefore being first company to do so on Canadian soil. In 1967 the three brother founded the Festival Western St-Tite which fame now crosses international borders. Today, Boulet Boots Inc. operates as a fourth generation, Canadian producer of handcrafted boots. For more, Like Boulet Boots on Facebook or visit www.BouletBoots.com

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